The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence by Gerald Blaine with Lisa McCubbin
First off, if you’re looking for scandal, skip this book. This guy is not spilling any of those kinds of secrets. Also, if you’re looking for conspiracy theories (which I find oh-so-tiresome), skip it.
If, however, you’re looking for the behind-the-scenes story of what it was like to protect the Kennedy family, this is your book.
The fellows assigned to protect the Kennedys were the first and only Secret Service agents to see a president assassinated on their watch. And really, there probably wasn’t a doggone thing they could have done about it. Kennedy himself said, on the morning of November 22, 1963, that if someone wanted to kill him, it would be easy to do from an upper-story window.
And—the part that the Secret Service did not speak of at the time (because they did not want to sound as though they were blaming JFK for his death)— is that Kennedy had asked, earlier that month, that the agents remain further away from his car so spectators could see him. This request had been passed through the chain of command, so that day in Dallas, the agents were not as close to the president as they would have liked to have been. (And yes, there’s all kinds of discussion of whether or not this is true. All right, already!)
The amazing thing is that the agents never talked about the assassination in the days and years following Kennedy’s death.
Since so much already has been written about the assassination, the thing about this book that will stick with me most is the information about the protection of Mrs. Kennedy and the children. The fellows on the “Kiddie Detail” seem like truly remarkable humans. Blaine describes how Caroline Kennedy rolled down the car window during the funeral cortege so she could hold the hand of special agent Bob Foster.
Even though this is just one more take on the old story we know so well, it’s fascinating to read.